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P2P Lender Zopa to Launch Challenger Bank

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Joining the likes of U.K.-based Monzo, Atom, Starling, and Tandem, P2P lending company Zopa announced yesterday it has applied for a banking license. “We want to offer consumers even more choice, which is why, subject to regulatory approval, we have decided to launch a next-generation bank to complement our existing peer-to-peer products,” the bank said in a statement on its website.

Founded in 2005, Zopa, a pioneer in P2P lending, was the first to launch a P2P lending platform in 2007. This week the company announced it has applied to the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for its banking license, a process expected to take up to two years. The new bank will offer FSCS-protected deposit accounts to savers and overdraft alternatives to borrowers. Being structured as a bank will allow Zopa to “create new and innovative savings and borrowing products” that existing Zopa clients will be able to test and offer feedback to shape future offerings.

Note that Zopa’s bank will run alongside its current P2P lending model. It will not be integrated into its existing platform, which is something analysts have been predicting since the inception of P2P lending—the creation of a holistic, crowd-sourced entity that fits into a P2P lending platform.

Zopa, which has raised almost $70 million, reached profitability in September. In October, the company facilitated a record amount of loans with $93 million lent through its platform. Last month Zopa announced a partnership with Airbnb that incentivizes borrowers to earn money via the vacation rental platform to pay back their loans faster. In May, Zopa added a vehicle-refinancing product to its platform, ZopaCarReFi.

Zopa’s former CEO Doug Dolton debuted the P2P lending platform at FinovateSpring 2008 at Finovate’s very first show in the Bay Area. Zopa co-founder Giles Andrews is now CEO.